A team of Fort Couch Middle School students placed first in the sixth-through-eighth-grade division at the regional STEM Design Challenge March 26.

Eighth-graders Carlee Santel, Tyler McClintock-Comeaux, Eitan Schwartz and Yuhong Shi now qualify to compete in the state-level competition

Sponsored by Thermo Fisher Scientific, the STEM Design Challenge tasks teams of students in fourth through eighth grades with designing and building a prototype using recyclable materials or K’Nex pieces. Each team must also create and submit a design notebook and a blueprint.

“The STEM Design Challenge encourages students to collaborate as they apply the engineering design process to accomplish a given goal,” Jason O’Roark, gifted education teacher, said. “This year the students enabled homes to only heat rooms that contained people, thus saving energy and helping the environment.”

Teams present their design solution to a panel of judges and are scored on creativity, teamwork, challenge success, design and presentation. The first-place teams in the local competition qualify to advance to the state championship.

Another team of Fort Couch Middle School students finished second in the regional competition, seventh-graders Lylah Kateeb, Chloe Bird, Ellie Simons, Kaia Petrick and Isabella Donnelly.